…and I’m proudly angry at the world, and Russia’s laws.
To be honest, it was an exciting announcement day for The Sims 4 to me. A bit more exciting than usual after seeing that, for the first time in forever, The Sims Team is including a Lesbian couple for the main cover of a Sims Pack.
This type of LGBTQ+ representation just wasn’t present there in The Sims Franchise, at least in the beginnings of the game. In the first waves of The Sims releases all there ever was the codable possibility of having same-sex relationships in the game. Having them publicly put on display? Wasn’t a thing. Not really because EA and Maxis didn’t support the LGBTQ+ community (Will Wright was all for gay rights since day 1, might I say!). However, there was always a question which amount of backlash The Sims Team would get for publicly showing support for the community.
You could see some first hints at LGBTQ+ households in some of The Sims 3 Worlds, however they wouldn’t be added in until the game’s ending cycle. The real story begins with The Sims 4, where more and more proper LGBTQ+ representation is shown.
I’ve been doing a deep dive research and writing for an upcoming article series regarding LGBTQ+ representation in Video Games and why is it so important for our community. However, the story I was developing was abruptly stopped by a surprising cover reveal of the upcoming The Sims 4 My Wedding Stories Game Pack.
LGBTQ+ characters on a Pack Cover for The Sims 4? My guess that this isn’t the first time EA has done this for The Sims. The first time it happened was very subtle. The Sims 4’s Base Game cover refresh has teasingly shown affection between two female characters. Still, some might say that they were just roomates…
Another attempt at LGBTQ+ representation was done through the cover Box Art of The Sims 4 Realm of Magic Game Pack. Morgyn Ember, the main character in the center of the Box Art is rumored to be a non-binary character. Although they have been set as a Male Sim through The Sims 4’s CAS settings, the character has a feminine frame applied in the Gender Customization Options.
We’re crossing our fingers here that Morgyn gets an accurate update with the upcoming Customizable Pronouns feature!
However, there is another, last rumored LGBTQ+ representation of characters in a Game Pack. Those are the background male Sims in the cover of The Sims 4 Dream Home Decorator Game Pack. They aren’t displaying any affection nor love in the cover, but it’s rumored that Patina, the home decorator, has done her magic for the lovely couple.
All of the examples you’ve seen above are just hints at LGBTQ+ representation. Nothing shown fully confirms that they are LGBTQ+ Sims. Although that wouldn’t be so important to the majority of people who are used to cis straight representation in covers, having Queer characters on the cover means a lot to the vast majority of LGBTQ+ players who play the game, including myself.
That’s why I was so happy to see that the first cover for a Sims 4 Pack has featured love for what it is. Of course, that love is still illegal in many parts of the world – including Russia where The Sims 4 is localized and sold.
Before digging into the cover of My Wedding Stories and why it might be so shocking for Russia, we have to go back to 2014 when The Sims 4 Base Game was first released.
Due to The Sims Franchise’s general nature of allowing any two consenting characters to fall in love, The Sims 4 was no different. Unfortunately Russia had a problem with consensual love, making The Sims 4, a T for Teen game, rated as an 18+ game. You heard that right – two characters kissing is rated the same as blood, violence and gore displayed in many franchises (like Grand Theft Auto).
18+ rating (of The Sims 4) has been assigned in accordance with the law number 436-FZ ‘On the protection of children from information harmful to their health and development.
Gita Jackson from VICE further explained how serious the “Gay Propaganda” law is, and that the latest decision from EA is nothing to joke about.
The legislation, formally titled the law “aimed at protecting children from information promoting the denial of traditional family values,” bans the “promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors”—a reference universally understood to mean a ban on providing children access to information about LGBT people’s lives. The ban includes, but is not limited to, information provided via the press, television, radio, and the internet.
It was no surprise for me that there would be some sort of reaction and modification from EA Russia in regards of the Game Pack cover. After all – two consenting female characters getting married is the root of all evil in this world and must be punished.
After the pack’s announcement two days ago I noticed something – The Sims Russia stopped posting as everyone else around the world celebrated love. There was something off.
First of all, TheSims.com in Russia didn’t even post about the pack’s existence at all – they only focused on the upcoming Kits.
The Sims Russia’s main social platform on VK also completely ignored the announcement of the pack:
I reached out to EA two days ago to find out what’s going on with the pack and what are their plans to rollout the game in Russia – if they had any plans at all that is.
Early this morning they said the following:
Imagining the stories our players will tell with our packs is at the heart of everything we create. For “My Wedding Stories,” we were excited to introduce you to Dom and Cam. Their love story reflects the lived experiences of so many members of our community and team. As we moved through our development and brand storytelling process, we became aware that the way we wanted to tell Cam and Dom’s story would not be something we could freely share around the world.
The ability to tell stories – any story – is at the core of what we do at The Sims. Holding back Cam and Dom’s story meant compromising the values we live by.
We are committed to the freedom to be who you are, to love who you love and tell the stories you want to tell.
We are steadfast in upholding that commitment by shining a light on and celebrating stories like Dom and Cam’s, so we have made the decision to forgo the release of “My Wedding Stories” where our storytelling would be subject to changes because of federal laws.
Regrettably, this means that members of The Sims community in Russia will not be able to purchase this game pack.
This decision is a double edged sword.
On one hand, The Sims Russian community could’ve had an official release of the Game Pack with a different cover art. A cover art that features legal, natural, family-valued love in the eyes of traditional Russia. All while censoring LGBTQ+ representation to the people that need it the most in Russia where, in some parts, just being LGBTQ+ can get you in a lot of trouble.
On the other hand the game now won’t be sold in Russia at all, resorting many players to illegaly download a Game Pack in a country where it’s illegal to be who you are. Ain’t that the irony…
I stand with the Sims community in Russia and I hope EA finds another way of delivering this pack to their player base.
ARTICLE UPDATE: It seems the Main Menu section of The Sims 4 Game in Russia just contradicted itself completely. “Say Yes to Love” said The Sims 4 in Russia…
— HoboGivili (@HoboGivili) February 11, 2022
This story is still being developed and will continue throughout the rest of the coming days through several articles. As an LGBTQ+ person living in the Balkan area of Europe where we still don’t have basic rights to be our queer selves and marry who we want I’m still processing this information. Sure, this is just a video game and a decision like this doesn’t mean a lot to you – but as someone who’s been playing The Sims in means of escapism through the harsh realities of the real world where our rights are stripped I’m everything but surprised. This is an everyday thing for us.
I’m still trying to gather every piece of information correctly here so you might see some updates to the article here and there. However, just a friendly reminder to all the homophobes and transphobes who might be reading this article:
This website is founded by a gay person. You are not welcome here, nor will you ever be.